- Top’s grocery store has reopened to the Buffalo community months after a deadly mass shooting in May.
- It has included renovations as well as a memorial as an ode to the victims who lost their lives in the attack.
- Jillian Hansworth told Insider about her recovery journey and the community’s climate amid the reopening.
Walking into the Top Friendly Market on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, New York, was overwhelming for Gillian Hansworth.
Just two months ago, Hanesworth – Prize-winning city poet He wrote a poem to commemorate the victims killed on May 14 by a white gunman who drove for hours into the predominantly black neighborhood and opened fire on the grocery store.
She told Insider that it took nearly a month after the shooting to get into any grocery store in general. But she’s been at Tops twice since the shooting – the first time being a pre-reopening party in the in the middle of july.
Ten people were killed and three others were injured as a result of the hate crime that was broadcast live In real time, including people you know, like Aaron Salter Jr., a lovable security guard, and Pearl Young, who took care of her mother as a child.
Honeysworth’s poem “Water” was surrounded by the waterfalls displayed in the store, which was met with a huge backlash.
“I just wanted to do my little bit. People seem to find healing in it, and that’s the whole purpose of forcing me to do it,” Hansworth, 29, who was born and raised on the East Side of Buffalo, told Insider.
—Poet Gillian Hansworth (@SocJustice_poet) July 15 2022
It was the second time Hanesworth walked inside the Tops during the official opening after a news interview outside the store. She went to check on her aunt who was with her, and as she was leaving, she noticed people nearby honoring her.
“I was walking outside, there were kind of a lot of people standing in front of my poem and just crying. And I’m like, ‘I can’t handle this.'” This is not for me today “Then I just ended up leaving”. “I haven’t been back since, and I don’t know if I’ll go there. I don’t know when I’ll feel comfortable going there.”
For some residents, reopening Tops was necessary due to food insecurity
Buffalo has been dealing with the fallout from the attack, similar to other communities that have experienced the impact of gun violence this year—such as Ovaldi, Texas, and Highland Park, Illinois And they were left bearing the brunt of a wave of mass shootings.
“There is no way to prepare yourself emotionally for someone who comes into your city’s black community and just slaughters it,” Hansworth said.
About two months later, the supermarket reopened its door after a renovation that included emergency exits and evacuation warnings – a decision that met with various reactions from the community, News agency mentioned.
“We felt very comfortable early on because people needed a store and we wanted it as fast as we could make it available,” President John Pearsons said. Tell NPR Last month. “We also understood that we needed to take steps to give them the best retail food store possible, and to be different, to look different, to feel different, something to be proud of and to serve them better.”
Tops is one of the major full-service grocery stores in the area, and as a result it is a staple in a neighborhood that suffers from Food insecurity And the Unemployment rate Slightly above the national average.
Hanesworth said the attack only exacerbated these issues.
Protesters gathered outside the store after reopening, demanding more options to open in the area — especially for those who may need more time before entering Tops again, according to local news.
Activist Galonda Hill: ‘We are being held hostage to inhuman decisions and choices’ Spectrum News . said. “So, we either choose to go back to a store where we walk on the blood of our seniors, or we stay in a society where we experience racial discrimination.”
“No matter which side these people are on, whether it’s, ‘I’m going there every day because I need something every day’ or I’m not going there again, ‘it’s all true,'” Hanesworth said.
‘It was severe’
Days after reopening, Tubbs was met with another threat from a man in Washington state who was accused of saying he would shoot black people in the store. Officials said it was arrested and charged With threats directed between countries.
“It’s exhausting and infuriating to know that people are using this moment of fear against so many people who are making all these false threats,” Hansworth said.
For Hanesworth, using her art to help the community is part of the path to recovery and helps her get out of bed every day, she said.
“For the first few days, I was sad but also shocked,” she said. “It took me a while to fully process what happened, even though I was watching the fallout right before my eyes.”
She remembers the moment she first heard the shooting. She was at a friend’s baby shower when messages started pouring in – prompting her to make her way to the supermarket.
Hanesworth remembers seeing the police at the scene and the crowd of people facing the store while gathering any information they could from social media.
“It was intense,” she said.
“I was there as they started lining up the scaffolding in front of the store to start taking people out, and I was there when they brought in two bodies,” she continued. “It’s the only thing that if I can’t see, that’s what I won’t see.”